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Nominations Sought for Honorary Degrees

SCO is accepting nominations for honorary degrees to recognize distinguished ODs and other individuals to be recognized at the college's 2018 commencement ceremony. Recipients must be of sufficient stature and character as to honor the college; anonymous submissions will not be accepted.

Specific criteria must include at least two of these:

  • Distinguished record of scholarship;
  • Outstanding contributions to society through humanitarian efforts, public service, or education;
  • Outstanding contributions to optometry or the optometric profession.

Nominations and supporting materials should be sent to Academic Affairs (Honorary Degrees), c/o SCO, 1245 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104, or emailed to The deadline is October 31.


Farias, Lyerly to Receive Alumni Awards

SCO has selected two outstanding alumni to be recognized at the college's Fall Homecoming and Continuing Education Weekend. Receiving SCO's Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor bestowed by the college - is Fred Farias III, OD '87, FAAO, and receiving the Young Alumni Award is Jennifer Lyerly, OD '11.

About Fred Farias III, OD '87, FAAO

A member of SCO's Alumni Council, Dr. Farias was named the 2016 Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association. CEO of 20/20 Vision Care in McAllen, Texas, Dr. Farias is a therapeutic optometrist and an optometric glaucoma specialist.

Dr. Farias is the immediate past president of the Texas Optometric Association, which named him its 2015 Optometrist of the Year. He volunteers as an InfantSEE® provider, a no-cost public health program developed to provide professional eye care for infants nationwide through Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation, of which he is a charter member.

Additionally, he organizes and sponsors vision screenings for underserved communities in south Texas. His service to optometry also includes volunteering as a member of the AOA Federal Legislative Action and Keyperson Committee. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Dr. Farias to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

About Jennifer Lyerly, OD '11

Dr. Lyerly graduated summa cum laude from SCO in 2011 and was named an Outstanding Clinician in her class. A native of Clemmons, North Carolina, she was valedictorian at North Carolina State University. She practices in Cary, North Carolina with a focus on specialty contact lenses.

She is the founder of Eyedolatry Blog, an eyecare website with a focus on encouraging women's leadership within optometry, and was named one of Vision Monday's Most Influential Women in Optometry in 2015.

In 2016 she cofounded Defocus Media, a social media management company for private practice ODs, and is the cohost of the popular Defocus Media Podcast.

A 2017 finalist for Transitions Academy's Brand Ambassador of the Year, Dr. Lyerly has emerged as one of the profession's leading content experts on best practices for ODs using social media. 


Posted by Jim Hollifield at 6/12/17 | 0 comments

Hayes Center Awards Announced

The Hayes Center for Practice Excellence at Southern College of Optometry recently selected four outstanding young alumni as recipients of the center’s fourth annual Practice of Excellence Award. The award identifies and rewards successful practices, recognizes achievements of SCO graduates, and helps foster joint relationships that benefit SCO’s alumni and current optometry students.

Three different $5,000 awards were designated to honor young alumni at different stages of their optometric career. All three awards – including one given collectively to a husband and wife partnership – recognize success in the private practice principles emphasized by the Hayes Center’s mission to encourage practice success.

The 2017 recipients included:

Drs. Eric and Victoria Gengenbach, Class of 2009, recipient of the Long-Term Graduate Award for the years 2006-2009. Drs. Gengenbach operate First Insight Eyecare at four locations throughout southwest Nebraska.

Dr. Spencer Luke, Class of 2011, recipient of the Mid-term Graduate Award for the years 2010-2012. He is a partner at Apple Eyecare in Island City, Oregon.

Dr. Matthew Aaker, Class of 2013, recipient of the Recent Graduate Award for the years 2013-2015. Dr. Aaker practices at Visionary Family Eye Care in San Antonio, Texas.

The 2017 awards were presented by Lisa Rossmeyer Wade, OD ’84, Director of the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence, and Nathan Hayes, representing the Hayes Family Foundation. Each of the recipients spoke to SCO’s third-year students, followed by a Q&A session during a program designed to assist the college’s students with successful transition into their fourth-year externship rotations and subsequent graduation. 

at 4/21/17 | 0 comments

SCO Accepting Nominations for 2017 Lifetime Achievement and Young Alumni Award

Alumni are encouraged to submit nominations for the college’s 22nd Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards. The highest honor presented to alumni, this award recognizes outstanding achievement to the profession, college, and the graduate’s community.

Any SCO graduate may nominate fellow alumni by using nomination forms available on SCO’s website. Completed forms may be mailed, emailed, or faxed to the designated information listed at the end of the form. All nominations must be received by March 31, 2017.

Nominations for the Young Alumni Award are also being accepted. Alumni may nominate any graduate from 2007-2016. Service to the profession, leadership, and other criteria are to be provided. Nomination forms may also be found on SCO’s website and must be submitted by March 31, 2017.

The awards will be presented during Fall Homecoming and CE Weekend. Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (901) 722-3216 for additional information.
at 3/22/17 | 0 comments

Zaba Named Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Joel N. Zaba, M.A., OD ’69, has been chosen to receive Southern College of Optometry's 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be presented during SCO's Fall Homecoming and Continuing Education weekend.

Over four decades of private practice in Virginia, Dr. Zaba has distinguished himself in the area of learning-related visual problems. He has lectured internationally and published extensively on his research focusing on the relationship between children, vision, and learning.

A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Dr. Zaba was encouraged to attend SCO by his brother-in-law, Harvey Aftel, OD ’54. At SCO, he became interested in the then relatively new connections between children’s vision and learning thanks to inspiration provided by the late Drs. Harvey Brown, Gerry Getman, and Robert Wagnon.

In his final year at SCO, he became one of the first optometry students to work with a researcher on a National Institutes of Health grant as he assisted in evaluating children with sickle-cell anemia. He later earned his master’s degree in human growth and development from the Institute for Child Study at the University of Maryland.

He has served as chair of the Communications Division for the AOA, the School Optometrist Standards Project Team, and as a national spokesman for the Vision Council of America. He has appeared on The Today Show and CNN to discuss children’s vision and learning. He is a member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation.

In 2015, he received the Virginia Optometric Association’s 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his longstanding and continuous commitment and service to optometry and the visual welfare of the public, including his service chairing the VOA’s Committee on Learning Disabilities and 13 years as a vision consultant to the Norfolk, Virginia public school system.


Posted by Jim Hollifield at 8/31/16 | 0 comments